Under the Obama administration, it was the policy of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents not to detain pregnant immigrants except under extraordinary circumstances. The Trump administration’s executive order ordering a crackdown on undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., however, has resulted in the reversal of that policy. A new internal ICE memo curtails the automatic release of pregnant immigrants picked up by ICE, although Trump’s executive order did not specifically address the detention of pregnant immigrants. That executive order simply directed ICE to target anyone present in the U.S. without a legal immigration status.
According to ICE’s website, pregnant immigrants still will be eligible for release, but only on a case-by-case basis. As a general rule, pregnant immigrants will remain in detention if their “detention is necessary to effectuate removal, as well as those deemed a flight risk or a danger to the community.” However, it also states on the ICE website that they will not detain pregnant women during their third trimesters “absent extraordinary circumstances.” This policy change evidently took effect in December, 2017.
Trump’s Executive Order Provides for Detention of More Pregnant Immigrants
ICE reportedly has detained 506 pregnant immigrants since December; as of March, 20, 2018, 35 pregnant women remain in ICE custody. This is despite outcry by immigration advocates, who point that detention of pregnant immigrants is likely to lead to serious health implications for the mother and unborn child. ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations official Phillip Miller, who verified these figures, also indicated that ICE would not deport pregnant women during their third trimesters due to the risk of flying.
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